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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Sunday Worship Leader Remarks

Each Sunday at the 10:45am service, one lay person serves as "Worship Leader." One of the duties of the Worship Leader is to give some brief remarks prior to the offering. This is called the "Prayers of the People," and it gives lay members an opportunity to talk about whatever is on their minds. Here is the text of my remarks:

Typically, we celebrate December 25th as the birth date of Jesus. Many scholars suggest that Jesus likely was born in late March or early April, the time shepherds “abide” in the fields to help ewes giving birth.

I was born in March. Perhaps Jesus and I share a common birth date. Had this date been used for Christmas I would have greatly dismayed as a child. We all pitied the kid whose birthday came near enough to Christmas to get combination birthday-Christmas gifts.

We are not sure how December 25 became the date celebrating Jesus’ nativity. Perhaps it was an attempt to convert a popular pagan celebration. Perhaps to was due to the fact that 4 days after winter solstice the daylight hours begin to get noticeably longer. Some have suggested that the fact that date is 9 months after the Jewish Passover celebration had something to do with the choice.

I think there is something to this last idea. After all, putting Christmas in March or Christmas in April would mean that we would celebrate his birth at the same time we honor his death. This way, the church now gets two big days to pack the pews.

Seriously, I think it noteworthy that we celebrate the birth of Jesus at a time when all seems dead in our world. And we honor his death at the time when the world is starting to come alive. I think this is another paradox of our faith that we have been noting throughout this Advent season. God is always acting in ways contrary to our expectations: giving us grace where grace is not deserved, extending hope when all seems hopeless.

So let us live within God’s grace that gives life all that is dead within us. And let us live in hope as we work to bring life to a dying world.

And let us display this hope we have in a very practical way by making out our pledge cards and placing them in the offering plate. May the ushers come and receive our hopeful pledges and offerings at this time.

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